Thursday, June 27, 2013

How many Business Development or Salespeople Do You Really Need?

How many Business Development or Salespeople Do You Really Need?

Before you hire anyone ask yourself this question, how big is your market opportunity?

Here’s a ten (10) step approach The Learning Strategy, found that works:

1.       Begin with your average contract amount multiplied by your average profit margin.  Let’s say $40,000.00 (gross) divided by 35% = $26,000.00 (net).
2.       Let’s say your combination of new and existing accounts equal 300 per year with an average gross revenue (AGR) of $120,000,000.00, average net revenue (ANR) is $7,800,000.00 per year.
3.       Current ratio sales per account is 1 salesperson|100 accounts totaling 3 salespeople accountable for $4,000,000.00 AGR, $2,600,000.00 ANR each.
4.       Now you need to identify the size of your market, what type of training customers are buying and what type of training customers will be buying.
5.       Let’s say you can identify 2000 businesses with an employee size of 100 or more.  Now you need to eliminate businesses that don’t qualify as part of your served market.  For instance, if you providing high-ticket sales training, you may want to eliminate industry codes having to do with retailing who sell through distributors or non-profits.  Then you might want to eliminate all non-headquarters businesses (if headquarters are where the decision-makers are).  You may be down to 1000 businesses.
6.       Then you may want to validate and score.  Are these ideal customers? Rate them by Dollar Potential, Access & Credibility, Product Training Fit, Community College Value-Added Fit, Leverage and your Personal Conviction.  Uh oh, down to 300 targeted business prospects!
7.      Next, add your existing accounts plus the targeted prospects (300) by the number of calls or outreach attempts.  You’ll want to segment the opportunity here, “awarding” more sales calls and outreach attempts to businesses with larger potential.  You may also want to budget more touches with businesses you already do business with (you don’t want to lose them!).
8.       Go back to item 3 for a second…  Using the 1 salesperson|100 account ratio, let’s say it took seven touches or 700 calls a year or an average of 20 calls or outreach attempts per week.  Use this as your model example.
9.       Now you simply multiply the total number of existing accounts and new targeted business prospects by  the amount of touches per year to determine how many touches a typical salesperson can make.   Be sure and reflect the time your salespeople spend in non face to face activities like research, planning and reporting, custom development projects, quality assurance and training which is about 30% of the week. 
10.   Based on the above scenario, to maintain your existng accounts and target new business prospects totaling 600 accounts, would require 4,200 touches.  4,200 touches divided by an average of 700 touches per salesperson works out to 6 full-time salespeople.  So if you have 3 people now, you could:  
a.       Add more full-time headcount (in this case an additional 3 salespersons) or,
b.      Increase the size of the opportunity for the targeted business prospects or,
c.       Hire the Appointment Lab via to reduce the amount internal calls/touches, reduce the amount of research, planning, reporting % and ultimately maintain the amount of full-time headcount capacity refocusing their efforts on nurturing the business relationship.

How do you determine you’re Business Development (BD) or Sales budgeting if you are providing corporate/contract training to businesses? And how can you grow your gross and net revenue if adding more salespeople is not warranted?  And what sort of approach should you use if your BD or sales team includes the Appointment Lab?  How critical is it for you to ensure that the partner you choose understands what your values are and how you are represented in the business community you serve?  We’re helping Community Colleges competitively position themselves in the markets they serve!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Community Colleges and Foundations: For Better or For Worse

Community Colleges and Foundations:  For Better or For Worse

I had the pleasure of working with a community college for many years, during which I supported the Foundation’s public relations, marketing and fundraising efforts.  I also realized that there are many departments with very similar challenges in attaining revenue goals in support of the college.  Was the work rewarding? Absolutely! Was it challenging? Yes!

Based on my experience and those of my clients, the most rewarding aspects of community college Foundation fundraising are:

·       The donors are generous.
·       The community support is inspiring.
·       There is a lot of opportunity for growth in community college fundraising.
·       Seeing your work change lives – students receiving scholarships, employees pursuing               professional development and colleges enhancing their facilities and technology – is rewarding. 
·         The support from other community college resource development professionals throughout the country is unconditional.

The most challenging aspects of community college fundraising are:

·      Alumni do not give enough to community colleges and tend to give more to their four-year alma maters.
·         Community colleges serve more students than many four-year institutions but raise less money.
·         Community colleges have a tendency to focus on special event fundraising, which is typically less effective, more labor intensive and more expensive than other fundraising methods.
·         The fundraising teams are understaffed.
·         Public relations and Business outreach and inbound marketing efforts are insufficient.
·         Presidents who do not like or enjoy fundraising and entrepreneurship can be barriers to success.
·         Foundation boards and presidents often have unrealistic fundraising goals.

Lately, I have noticed many (mostly positive) trends in community college fundraising, including:

·         More community colleges are establishing real estate foundations.
·         Community college foundation boards are becoming more selective when recruiting board members.
·         Foundation board members are becoming more powerful and involved than college boards.
·         Community colleges are hiring more non-traditional and entrepreneurial presidents.

Here are some ideas to support your community college’s fundraising efforts:

·         Contribute to your foundation
·         Develop a good internal referral process.
·         Volunteer to serve on the foundation board and/or a committee
·         Volunteer to assist with a fundraising project
·         Volunteer to accompany the fundraising events

Please share your thoughts about some successful experiences you’ve had in community college fundraising…

Monday, June 10, 2013

Understanding employer grants are good, understanding employer needs are better – Five (5) Phases of the Hourglass CNA

Federal, State and Local grants are helpful in providing employers the opportunity to receive dollars in training and developing their employees, but it can be a necessary evil.  If you understand how to navigate through the grant requirements and have the resources (administrative) to effectively support these requirements, it’s a good way to begin a client relationship.

The question about anything that is free, have both of you (provider and employer) invested the time to capture need(s) that will help an employer grow his or her business, improve employee productivity, employee morale, etc. and has the employer done the succession planning to properly use these funds to ensure a valued strategic partnership?

Education institutions, Workforce Development agencies and employers can get lulled into practices that lean more toward “spending the dollars” that are available. Competition for these dollars also becomes high and competition in the field is many. 

So what do we do, we become a government approved vendor, we offer these grants to businesses, we list our courses and assist them in the application process – securing the dollars.  As a result, educational institutional revenue trends go through peaks and valleys.  When government grant monies are high and relatively available, revenue tends to be good.  When these grants dry up, what happens with the client-partner relationship?

My experience with employers is to keep the grants as the last alternative and focus more on the Client Needs Analysis (CNA).  Below are the Five (5) Phases of the Hourglass CNA:

1.       Rapport
• Make a personal connection, establish some rapport.
• Repeat your pre-call Contracting (clarify expectations—yours and theirs).
• Brief Agenda (make reference to the VBR you used to set the meeting).
• Discuss how we do business (use your PMR and/or capabilities brochure, if appropriate).
• Ask some easy-to-answer, not-risky Needs Analysis questions to continue establishing your credibility.

2.       Needs
• Probe for a broad range of potential needs, problems, challenges, and opportunities, some of which could turn into good assignments.
• Use the Needs/Notes steno-pad note-taking system. 
• Circle those needs that may be an Assignment. It’s an Assignment if it registers well on the Prospect’s Richter Scale (it’s important enough to lose sleep over and spend money to solve) and on Our Richter Scale (it’s a problem in want of a solution we could deliver).
• Needs Phase may be complete when you have 2 or 3 promising Assignments.

3.       Assignment
• Summarize the needs you noted on your page.
• Ask if anything is missing from list.
• Ask prospect to prioritize them. Which is most important, most urgent? Focus on the most important need you have the capabilities to address. Try not to reach beyond the second biggest.
• Test the emerging “Assignment” by asking questions about ROI measurement, already-existing plans, potential spending to solve the problem, and how soon the prospect wants to see potential solutions.
• Agree on one (or more!) Assignment. This is something the prospect wants help on and wants to work shoulder-to-shoulder with you on.

4.       Analysis
• Open up the questioning again. Now your intent is not to learn about a full range of potential needs, but to get in-depth information about the Assignment or Assignments uncovered.
• Ask these types of questions (you may want to use a few of these and then draft some of your own as well). What makes this need important? What has prompted it to go to the top of your priority list? What makes it tough? What would success look like? What are some of the things you would need to see in the ideal solution? Why don’t you have a solution already?
• Floating Preliminary Ideas and Trial Balloons is a natural part of this process. You’re not necessarily trying to solve the problem right then and there; rather, you’re using these devices to learn more.

5.       Contracting
• Ask the prospect, what else should we be talking about? — Plus do you have any questions for me?
• Agree on the next steps in the process. Announce your tasks. Leave the prospect with at least one task.

Sure receiving free dollars for employer training are very helpful… However by getting involved with the employer practices and their critical needs, the employer will always value your ideas and you will be well positioned within their company as a preferred provider, grant dollars or not.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Community Colleges: If You Want To Engage with Business, Rethink Your Marketing Strategy and Business Outreach Efforts.

When employers think of a Community College, they usually think of a place for a student to receive a quality two year education at an affordable price.  My experience in talking with business executives about the community college in their local community is almost always favorable - “I received my 2-year degree at a community college or my son or daughter received their 2 year degree.”  Employers know what community colleges do in benefiting their personal academic needs in the communities they serve.

What many employers are not aware of is how community colleges can directly impact their business.   Community college products and services include customized employee training programs, continuing education, lifelong learning, access to business grants, tuition assistance planning, co-sponsoring events, being a foundation board member, participating in student – employer pools, career fairs and many other value-added partnership programs.  All of the above help employers improve efficiencies, employee morale, exposure in the community and most importantly, their bottom-line

Marketing budgets can be a challenge and resources can be limited for community colleges, however below are five (5) cost effective tips to rethink your marketing and business outreach efforts:

1. Collaborate with other departments – If you want to make an employer feel like a strategic partner, they must feel that way across all departments in the college.  For example, if they invested in your foundation, you better make sure you treat them well if they’re interested in Contract Training.  This builds positive employer awareness of the college and you’ll see more of an investment in other programs and services that you provide.

2.    Make it easy to reach you – If an employer is contacting you about something they’re interested in, direct them to the right person or department.  I remember one employer called into our central administrative office and wanted to take a leadership program and it took 4-5 attempts until they found the right department….  Also, if they get a voicemail, return their request by the end of the day. 

3.     Be proactive – Don’t wait for an employer to contact you.  Be proactive, network, set appointments, send marketing campaigns, and try inbound marketing!  In today’s competitive market, you can’t wait until someone contacts you.  Take advantage of your good reputation, you are special and employers love to hear from community colleges and learn about what’s new and how you can work together.

4.    Get employers involved, for free – Ask them to volunteer for events like Kids College Day, Lunch n Learns, Advisory Councils, Speaking engagements.  Employers enjoy giving back to the community and sharing a day with community college students and faculty.

5.    Brainstorm with Employers – Brainstorm and think of cross promotional ideas to present to the community.  Finding that synergy between business and education really taps into community trust and involvement.